Commissioner Kelly Has No Time For The Haitian Community

From the Haitian Times

Shortly after the police had gunned down Patrick Dorismond in 2000, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani found himself in a quagmire. No one from the Haitian community wanted to meet with him after he demonized the dead man by insinuating that Dorismond was responsible for his death after he fought with an undercover police officer who had offered to sell him drugs.

The community was so indignant about the incident and its aftermath that no leader wanted to meet unless Giuliani apologized. Of course, he refused and hence a standoff. But at one point when the anger against the mayor was seething outside the minority communities, he needed to meet. Giuliani ambushed a group of clergy leaders inviting them to meet with police Commissioner Howard Safir. Giuliani just happened to be in the vicinity and Dropped in. Quickly recognizing a set-up, many of the ministers walked out. 

The Dorismond shooting was a “bad one” for the New York Police Department, and it needed allies. Now, the shooting of Georgy Louisgene is considered a “good one” for the department. Police officials did a good job convincing the mainstream media that Louisgene was somehow a knife-wielding mad man, who was speaking “Jamaican” and refused to put down his weapon. Officers said they had to shoot him because they had no other choice. Case closed. 

We believe that the officers, who fired eight bullets, used excessive force in the case. But what we find even more troubling is that newly appointed police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has rebuffed the Haitian community’s overture to talk about the Louisgene case and other issues affecting the Haitian community. 

Last week, through a secretary, Kelly told a group of Haitian organizations that he was too busy to meet with them. We suppose that he can take such an attitude at this time because once again, this was a “good” shooting. When a “bad” one occurs Kelly will be calling and looking for anyone to talk to so his department can say that it reached out to the community. 

Kelly went to Haiti in 1994 and helped set up the current police force there. His appointment was seen as a positive side for many in the community. But in his first test he failed miserably. A survey conducted shortly after the Dorismond shooting revealed that a great majority of Haitians felt that the police stopped them because they are black and are abused because they are Haitians.

These are not things to be taken lightly. There is deep resentment of the police in the Haitian community. It came to a head with the Abner Louima case and continues to this day. These are the issues we want to find solutions to. 

But Kelly is too busy to talk about them until the fire next time.

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